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Mumbai, April 4 Hindustan Unilever Ltd will be sourcing farm products for its leading foods brand Kissan from farmers across rural India, as part of its social initiatives to mark the completion of 75 years of its corporate existence in India.

Addressing shareholders at the company’s 75th annual general meeting here on Friday, Mr Harish Manwani, Chairman, said the company was initiating several programmes to enhance livelihood.

“Kissan is targeting to source agricultural raw materials from primary producers. Now what makes it really special is that we intend to pass on the economic benefits of this backward integration back to the farmers,” he said.

The company also intends to enhance the livelihoods of 75,000 women across rural India in 2008. “We plan to partner with NGOs to augment their efforts by bringing in technical and managerial expertise in this area. The other leg is Project Shakti, our rural distribution initiative. It has made a big difference already to 45,000 women across 15 States by providing them sustainable livelihoods. Our target is to cover one lakh villages across India by 2010,” he said.

It has identified five key platforms to drive its sustainable strategy and as part of this it would work in the areas of health and nutrition, women empowerment and focus on water conservation and cutting greenhouse gases.

On the environment front, Mr Manwani said the company embraced Unilever’s target of 25 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide from energy in manufacturing operations for every tonne of production by 2012. It recently developed a new process of manufacturing soap based on plough share mixer technology, which eliminates the need for steam in soap making. “This technology cuts carbon emissions by 15,000 tonnes per year,” the Chairman pointed out.

Unilever, now a $ 55-billion global company, plans to increase its business from the Developing and Emerging (D&E) market like India from the present level of 44 per cent of its total business to 50 per cent by 2010.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 5, 2008)
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